I won’t be at the Berkshire Conference on the History of Women this year, but I wanted to alert you to a few sessions in particular that focus on women’s history and public history, the National Women’s History Museum controversy, and finally, the winner of the first Peg Strobel travel grant competition.
First, Sonya Michel has informed me that she has posted a number of relevant responses to the breakdown between Joan Wages, President and CEO of the NWHM, and professional historians at the Coordinating Council for Women in History website.
Second, there are two events that will interest folks gathering in Toronto at the Berks that pertain to the NWHM fracas:
- Session 123: “Women’s History Meets Public History,” Saturday May 24, 8-10 a.m., University College 144
- Open Meeting re: Historians and the Women’s History Museum in Washington, DC, Sunday May 25, 9:30-11:30 a.m., University College 44 (lower level)
Third, congratulations to Tracey Hanshew, a Ph.D. student at Oklahoma State University, who won the Peg Strobel Berkshire Conference Travel Grant! And you will not believe what she’s writing about, friends: cowgirls!
Hanshew is preparing a dissertation exploring “Rural Feminism and Rodeo Cowgirls During the Golden Age of Radio,” that is, the first third of he twentieth century. “Competition in the arena during the Golden Age of Rodeo,” she argues, “opened doors for women to develop careers and become financially independent. These cowgirls launched fashion trends, facilitated careers and helped lay the groundwork for the feminist movement to follow. Hanshew’s research at present focuses on Lucille Mulhall, “America’s first cowgirl,” as a vehicle to explore women in Oklahoma’s economy and early tourism industry. Mulhall made national headlines when she began competing in Oklahoma rodeos, promoting rodeo within Oklahoma’s ranching culture while establishing a place for women in it. She has also explored connections between “feminism and equestrienne practices” in a paper on debates over side saddles at the end of the nineteenth century, which considered appropriate riding apparel as well as the implications of riding astride, raising along the way questions about women’s bodies, health and freedom.
Peg Strobel, Susan Amussen, and I served as co-Chairs of the Program Committee for the 2008 Berks conference. The growing presence of public history at the Berks is due in large part to her energetic advocacy, professional contacts, and organizing skills that I got to see up close in 2006-08 as we planned that conference. From the award announcement: “Peg Strobel, for whom the grant was named, is a past NCWHS [National Collaborative for Women's History Sites] President, still serving on the NCWHS board. Peg has long been one of the unsung heroes in the field of women’s history. Her indefatigable ways, her living of her beliefs, her great generosity, her ability to encourage and work with all kinds of people, her steadiness, and, especially, her insights, make her a remarkable colleague and friend.”
Finally, I can’t neglect to point out the very meritorious runners-up for the Strobel award, one of whom is a new Twitter pal, and the other of whom is a former undergraduate and graduate student of mine:
The Strobel Travel Grant selection committee also acknowledged the work of two applicants with “honorable mention.” Monica Mercado [@monicalmercado] of the University of Chicago will present “Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles: Building Archives in Gender and Sexuality at the University of Chicago” in the session “Collecting on the Edges: Gender and Sexuality in the University Archives,”(Sunday, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm). And Rachel Kline [@KlineRacheld] a historian for the USDA Forest Service, will be entering the PhD program at the University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, where she plans to write an “environmental history of the female body in nineteenth-century British India.”
Have fun in Toronto, everybody!